During the 2017/2018 budget process, Councilmember Claudia Balducci successfully advocated for, and the Council approved, $2 million for a future aquatics center on the Eastside.
Communities on the Eastside have long expressed interest in an Eastside pool. In 2015, Kirkland’s Aquatics, Recreation & Community (ARC) Center proposal went to the ballot, and the community there expressed a great deal of support for the pool although the funding mechanism failed to pass. A few years earlier, the City of Bellevue studied the possibility of a major pool complex at the request of a group of residents who called themselves “SPLASH.” The City of Redmond has launched a public outreach process to explore what the community may want in regard to aquatics, is actively meeting with community groups, has an online survey and is conducting focus groups. Last year, the County began meeting with staff from interested cities and aquatics/recreation organizations to explore the possibility of a partnership on an Eastside regional aquatic facility.
The $2 million set aside for the aquatic center in the 2017/2018 budget comes from existing car rental tax revenue freed up by retiring the Kingdome debt. During the budget process, the Council decided to bond against a portion of the future collections of the car rental taxes to pay for large capital projects, such as the aquatics center in the near term. The funding is not programmed for any particular phase of the project.
There is not a location yet for the regional aquatics facility. Discussions thus far have focused on identifying available public land. A process is underway to explore what locations are conceivable, and public input will be sought for the project. The County is engaging the cities of Redmond, Bellevue and Kirkland with the planning and site exploration for the regional aquatics facility. Councilmember Balducci is interested in ensuring a location is found that would be easily accessible from all three cities.
We will keep you informed as further planning details and steps are identified by the group framing the planning process.